Green Man Festival, Powys
Friday 21 August/ Saturday 22 August, 2015
In his debut feature for Louder Than War, Ioan Humphreys reports back from the Green Man Festival on sets by Hookworms and The Fall.
It’s grey, it’s drizzly, it’s Wales! But hey I’m allowed to say that as I am Welsh and have previous. However, the unpredictable inclement weather doesn’t seem to be getting any of the 15,000 punters down this evening. The beautiful Glanusk Estate site that houses arguably one of the UK’s most eclectic festivals is certainly buzzing tonight with the prospect of Calexico, Sun Ra Arkestra, Mew and Hot Chip whetting the craft beer-soaked appetites.
Before that we have the almighty Hookworms, seemingly trying to dismantle the Far Out tent singlehandedly bolt by bolt, peg by peg. The noise emitting from the crammed and sweaty tent completely engulfs the immediate surroundings and I can no longer hear the posh kids sitting next to me (Seb and Pascal…) shouting for more falafel and celery sticks.
The Leeds band have honed their own brand of minimalist sonic battering for the last four years and tonight their noise doesn’t disappoint. Forging the simplicity of White Light, White Heat VU with a runaway freight train, Hookworms have, in the form of MJ, a mad conductor in both senses of the word. Behind his table of keyboards and effects, he leads each song with a growly ferocity that makes the experience even more intimidating. The band also very much live up to their name as each song has an unrelenting throbbing bassline with melodic hooks that get under the skin and cling on to your insides.
The band more than lives up to their live reputation and the songs off their recent Domino Records releases transfer perfectly to this unsuspecting crowd. The only downside? Once the onslaught ends I can hear bloody Seb and Pascal again…
This writer has already seen MES on a stage once today. A Mark E Smith in-conversation with Mojo on the Talking Shop stage and which perhaps didn’t really go as well as Mojo had planned. Pre-planned questions were asked which had been submitted by Mojo readers and some well known Fall fans (our own John Robb, Johnny Vegas, Stewart Lee among others) and that from the outset were pretty random, seemed to annoy MES to the point that he couldn’t fully answer Stewart Lee’s enquiries. And with that, MES abruptly left the stage saying he had to “sound check” leaving our man from Mojo running after him with the crowd cheering on. Business as usual then.
The Far Out stage is very full by the time the band start to fill it. Massive roars accompany Elena’s arrival and as the band begin the opening bars of Amorator! from 2013’s The Remainderer EP, MES joins everyone to deafening applause. MES immediately starts prowling the stage, stealing Peter Greenway’s mic. Borrowing heavily from their current (outstanding) album, they steamroller through song after song barely stopping for breath. White lightning and Mr Pharmacist (big favourites) are gratefully received. The throbbing bass lines and MES’s antagonistic vocals just get the ever growing crowd into a massive Fall appreciation love-in that includes middle aged men (with actual Fall tattoos!) and befuddled teens not knowing whether to run and hide or throw their plastic daisy chain head dresses at them and declare unrequited love for these rock and roll saviours.
And to be honest, The Fall are rock and roll saviours. There I’ve said it! No other band over this entire weekend has the intensity, the ferocity, the mis-judged and downright mis-informed reputation that The Fall have. And they are still here after all this time. Critics may go on and on and on and on and on and on and on about MES and his staff turnover. The fact is, The Fall are now five albums in with their current line-up, which by my (dodgy) calculations, makes them more The Fall than The Fall have ever been.
During the final strains of Theme from Sparta FC, MES walks over to Elena, puts her coat around her and they walk from the stage leaving the band to finish the song with massive applause and satisfying wonderment. So please. Stop going over the past. Let MES fiddle with Elena’s keyboard and steal Greenway’s mic to his heart’s content because they aren’t going away. And that, my friends, is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s what the world needs now.
All words by Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.